Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Custom Domain Publishing, And Forwarding Vs Referral - The Controversy Never Ends

I give advice, as well as problem solutions, several times / day, in BHF: How Do I?, and in BHF: Something Is Broken. Not all of my advice is graciously accepted.

Some of my advice is based on simple truths.
  • No, Auto Pagination is not going to be made optional.
  • No, you cannot have control of that blog, even though you state it's yours - unless you can prove ownership.
  • No, you cannot have control of that URL, even though it is inactive - even if it is the perfect URL for your blog.

None of those subjects frustrate me half as much as simple advice, also occasionally ignored, about properly setting up a custom domain. Too many blog owners insist that frame or URL forwarding is an acceptable solution, for connecting a domain to a Blogger blog.

There is one time when you will need to use forwarding - when you are adding a "secondary" (non published) domain, and pointing that towards your Blogger blog. When you publish a Blogger blog to a non BlogSpot URL, you can only publish to one URL - the "primary" domain.

You will use forwarding - aka "301 Moved Permanently" - to point any secondary domains to the published URL in the primary domain, using servers provided by the registrar / DNS host.

When you publish your blog according to Blogger design, you use referral to point the domain to Google, and to the blog. Anybody who tells you to use forwarding, to point the domain to BlogSpot, because referral is too hard to setup, your DNS host doesn't support it, "it just works better", ..., is wrong.

Forwarding is simply not a valid substitute for referral, when pointing the primary domain to BlogSpot.
  1. Forwarding to BlogSpot yields confusion.
  2. Forwarding to BlogSpot yields inconvenience, for your readers.
  3. Forwarding to BlogSpot yields instability.
  4. Forwarding to BlogSpot yields poor search engine results.

Forwarding, to BlogSpot, yields confusion.
  • With forwarding, your readers will see blog content.
    • Frame forwarding will show the domain root address, in the browser address window, no matter what blog page is being viewed.
    • URL forwarding will show the BlogSpot blog URL, in the browser address window.
  • The browser "Go back" / "Go forward" buttons won't operate reliably.
  • Only the BlogSpot URL will be indexed by the search engines.
  • What you'll get in the blog feed is anybody's guess.
  • Various blog accessories will simply stop working.

Forwarding, to BlogSpot, yields inconvenience, for your readers. A domain that uses forwarding will be detected by the software that prevents "404 Not Found" / "Another blog is hosted at this domain" (or tries to do that), and your readers will see
This blog is not hosted by Blogger and has not been checked for spam, viruses and other forms of malware.

Forwarding, to BlogSpot, yields instability. As long as people recommend forwarding, our old friends
404 Not Found
and
Another blog is hosted at this domain
will never go away.

Forwarding, to BlogSpot, yields poor search engine results. With "CNAME" referral, your blog will transfer its identity - and traffic - to the domain URL.

Forwarding to BlogSpot, when correctly implemented, will transfer the domain identity to the BlogSpot URL. Forwarding to BlogSpot, when incorrectly implemented, will produce duplicated content - and both the BlogSpot and domain URLs will suffer penalties.

If you don't care about instability, inconvenience, or search engine results, forwarding the domain to BlogSpot is "just as good as referral". But if you don't care about any of those little details, why waste time (and money) publishing a non BlogSpot blog (or trying to do that)?

>> Top

1 comment:

Mary Hall said...

I just wanted to THANK YOU for the advice you left me in the blogger forum on changing my DNS records when moving from Blogspot to Blogger, thank you! Huge help!

THANK YOU for your advice.